Biometrics normally involves the measurement of human biological data. Biometric identifiers could include fingerprints, facial features, patterns in the eye, voice, DNA and much more. Biometrics have been used in authentication for many years now, using a biological measurement that is unique to an individual to identify them. Most of us already use biometric authentication technology on a regular basis when using our fingerprint or face to unlock our smartphone or going through passport control with a biometric passport.

The life and health insurance space is now starting to look at how biometrics can be used to assist customers. By combining biometric data with advanced statistical analysis or machine learning, systems can make predictions about an individual. The potential use cases go far beyond authentication. A few examples include:

  1. Improving the online journey for a customer filling in an insurance application. For example a single photo can be used to predict the responses to a number of questions and fill these in.
  2. Using biometric data combined with demographic data to improve underwriting accuracy.
  3. Utilising wearable technology to track biometric data such as, heart rate, blood oxygen levels or steps. This could provide users with incentives to be healthier or provide advice and support if an adverse reading is detected.

To see the first example in action take a look at the everis biometric insurance quotation proof of concept here. Just by turning on your webcam the application can predict your age, gender, height, weight and whether you smoke. This allows a customer to fill in the form quickly. In addition, it increases user engagement (when I gave this a go at my desk a number of colleagues sitting around me also wanted to see whether it would successfully predict their smoking status).

When discussing the use of sensitive biometric information it is always important to never forget the privacy, legal and ethical implications. When implementing any solution involving biometric data, it must be guaranteed that the individual will not be discriminated against in any way. In addition, the way in which this information is stored and disposed of must be managed carefully. As long as the customer’s best interests are always of paramount importance, the potential to improve the insurance experience through the use of biometrics is huge.